How to Install Handicap Grab Bars in a Shower

Written by toni grundstom
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How to Install Handicap Grab Bars in a Shower
Install a grab bar in the shower to avoid slips and falls. (shower image by green 308 from Fotolia.com)

Shower grab bars are not just for the elderly or disabled. The design of the shower may cause it to be slippery or unsafe. Installing grab bars, grab rails, handicap rails, bath safety rails or whatever term is used to describe these safety and assistance devices will create a safer environment for anyone using the shower. You can install grab bars in a shower several ways.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Stud locator
  • Electric drill
  • 3/16-inch drill bit
  • 1 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Hollow wall-anchoring device

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Locate where the studs are behind the wall to install a vertical, horizontal or diagonal grab bar. A vertical alignment offers a range of gripping surface for different height individuals. Locate a stud close to the entrance of the shower to mount the grab bar. Use a horizontal grab bar on the interior wall of the shower so individuals can stand close to or away from the shower head. Place a diagonal grab bar on the long wall of the shower to assist with the use of a shower chair. Position the bar so the diagonal is high towards the shower fixture and angles down toward the back of the shower.

  2. 2

    Mark where the mounting holes are on the wall by placing the mounting hardware against the wall and using a pencil to mark the screw hole locations.

  3. 3

    Drill pilot holes through the wall into the stud with an electric drill and 3/16-inch-diameter bit.

  4. 4

    Place the grab bar into position and tighten the mounting screws tightly to secure the grab bar to the wall.

  5. 5

    Conceal the mounting screws by sliding the covers over them and securing them as directed by the manufacturer's instructions.

  1. 1

    Mark where the mounting holes are on the wall by placing the mounting hardware against the wall and using a pencil to mark the hole locations. Use an anchoring device to attach the grab bar to the wall when studs are not available.

  2. 2

    Drill pilot holes through the wall into the stud with an electric hand drill and 3/16-inch-diameter bit.

  3. 3

    Drill the appropriate hole into the wall to accommodate the hollow-wall fastener being used. A 1 ¼ inch bit is a typical size.

  4. 4

    Insert the fastener into the hole, allowing the back to open up. Use a screwdriver to tighten the screw that pulls the fasteners against the back of the wall and the mounting hardware tight against the front of the wall.

  5. 5

    Place the grab bar into position and tighten the mounting screws tightly to secure the grab bar to the wall. Conceal the mounting screws by sliding the covers over them and securing them as directed.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the area is clear of plumbing pipes before drilling.
  • According to Cornell University, "Choose finishes carefully, as some finishes can be either too rough for fragile hands or too slippery for people with reduced hand grip."

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